This week in KDE: better handling for grouped tasks in the Task Manager

This week we got a big improvement in how the Task Manager handles grouped tasks: by default, it activates the last-used task and then cycles through other tasks if you continue to click on it. There are also some more welcome improvements for the “Get New [Thing]” system, as well as a nice smattering of miscellany. Take a look:

New Features

MP4 video files now show the embedded cover art image when it’s available and previews are enabled (Heiko Schaefer, Dolphin 20.12.0)

The Task Manager now defaults to cycling through child tasks when clicking on a grouped task, and always display the most-recently-used one when switching to a task from an app that’s different from the current one. All of this may sound awfully complicated, but hopefully it’s exactly what you wanted it to do all along. 🙂 (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20):

Discover now shows updates for add-ons installed via the “Get New [Thing]” windows (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Plasma 5.20)

The System Settings Accessibility page is now available on Wayland (Michael Weghorn, Plasma 5.20)

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Fixed a weird bug in Elisa whereby the backgrounds of volume and track progress sliders were drawn in the wrong places (me: Nate Graham, Elisa 20.08.0)

Elisa’s album art displays are no longer downscaled and pixelated for albums where the art is integrated into the music files themselves (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.08.0)

Fixed the “Windows can cover” panel setting on Wayland (Xaver Hugl, Plasma 5.20)

Fixed a few visual glitches that can appear when downloading items using the Get New [Thing] dialogs (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Frameworks 5.73)

User Interface Improvements

Using Konsole’s --new tab argument now brings the existing instance into focus as well (Martin Rys, Konsole 20.08.0)

When opening a file from a Flatpak app like Dolphin and there is no locally-installed application that can handle it, the app now directs you to Discover and filters the list of apps shown by MIME Type, so only relevant options are displayed (Harald Sitter, Plasma 5.20)

More of the built-in entries in the System Settings Global Shortcuts page now have sensible icons (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20):

The file overwrite dialog now tells you when the two files are actually identical (Méven Car, Frameworks 5.73)

How You Can Help

If you are an experienced developer who would like to make a gigantic impact very quickly, fix some recent Plasma regressions or longstanding bugs. Everyone will love you forever! No really. Sometimes people will mail you beer and everything. It’s happened before!

Beyond that, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

PSA: try turning on WebRenderer in Firefox

This is a new rendering backend for Firefox that’s not yet on by default. Presumably there are some edge cases where it makes things worse or causes some instability, but so far I have not experienced anything bad. On the contrary, without it, I and some other people get terrible flickering in Firefox on Wayland. With it enabled, not only is the flickering gone, but scrolling performance becomes buttery smooth and CPU usage decreases noticeably on both Wayland and X11, resulting in increased battery life! Win-win-win.

To turn it on, visit the about:config page in Firefox, search for “gfx.webrender.all”, and set it to true. That’s all there is to it!

This week in KDE: screencasting and shared clipboard on Wayland

This week has seen more fixes and improvements to the Get New Stuff system, as well as speeding up Discover. But they may be overshadowed by Major Enormous Exciting Amazing new Wayland features such as screencasting and Klipper/shared clipboard support!

Oh and two Ryzen-powered KDE Slimbook laptops were released! I wrote a review of the 15.6″ model here. It’s really good.

New Features

Screen recording and screencasting now works on Wayland for compatible applications (e.g. OBS Studio and more to come) (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

Klipper now uses the Wayland clipboard and works as you would expect in a Wayland session (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.20)

The Task Manager and Icons-Only Task Manager now offer you options for what visualization you want to see when clicking on a grouped task: window thumbnails in tooltips, the Present Windows effect, or a textual list (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

There isn’t yet an option to bring forward all windows for the grouped task, but this is coming too!

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Spectacle’s --output option now works again (Nazar Kalinowski, Spectacle 20.12.0)

Discover is now radically faster to present a usable user interface after being launched, especially on openSUSE distros (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

The last-used keyboard layout is now remembered on Wayland (Andrey Butirsky, Plasma 5.20)

On a rotatable device, maximized windows now remain maximized when the device is rotated (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

The OK and Cancel buttons in the network hotspot dialog no longer overlap the password field (Rijul Gulati, Plasma 5.20)

Fixed the inline button display for Tiles view in the Get New [Thing] dialog (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

The first entry in the Get New [Thing] dialog is no longer always misleadingly selected (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

It’s now possible to delete an entry that’s upgradeable in the Get New [Thing] dialog (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

The old QWidgets-based Get New [Thing] dialog now lets you choose which thing to install when a thing lists multiple installable things in its thing (so you can thing while you thing) (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

The old QWidgets-based Get New [Thing] dialog no longer changes the width of the main view after you start searching for something (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

User Interface Improvements

Spectacle no longer includes the mouse cursor in screenshots by default (Antonio Prcela, Spectacle 20.08.0)

KInfoCenter no longer shows useless “Defaults” “Reset” and “Apply” buttons at the bottom of the window (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

Line and bar charts used in system monitor widgets now display grid lines and Y axis labels (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

The “Add Widgets” sidebar has been subtly improved with a third column and a better top layout for the controls (Carson Black, Plasma 5.20)

Dolphin’s context menus now locates the extra actions to open other applications in the base level of the context menu rather than a sub-menu, so long as there are three of them or less (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.73):

Wow, this menu is getting pretty huge; I guess we should do something about that next

How You Can Help

If you are an experienced developer who would like to make a gigantic impact very quickly, fix some recent Plasma regressions or longstanding bugs. Everyone will love you forever! No really. Sometimes people will mail you beer and everything. It’s happened before!

Beyond that, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

The superfast Ryzen-powered KDE Slimbook

I’ve had the privilege of testing and using the brand-new 15.6″ Ryzen-powered KDE Slimbook laptop for the past month. During that time, I worked with the Slimbook developers to perform QA and polish Plasma for this laptop. They’re awesome people who hosted our Plasma+Usability & Productivity Sprint last year at their offices. I’d like to share my impressions of their latest laptop.

Full disclosure: this laptop was sent to me for free for testing and development, so I have no financial skin in the game. They haven’t asked for it back yet, but I plan to either send it back, or purchase it, if I want to keep it. My configuration retails for 930€ (roughly $1,075), which is a steal for what you get. Regardless, what follows is what I believe to be an honest, unbiased review.

Performance and battery life

Here’s what I know you’re all waiting to hear about, so I’ll just start with it: performance with the 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 4800H CPU is unbelievable!

I can compile KWin in five minutes, compared to over 11 with my top-of-the-line Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga with a 10th generation Intel i7 processor. Everything feels smooth and fast. The power of this machine is awesome, and the Ryzen CPU makes it heaven for people who need to perform processor-heavy tasks on a regular basis.

Despite this, case temperatures remain cool and the fan remains off when the machine is not under heavy load. The thermal management is excellent–far better than on my ThinkPad.

Additionally, battery life is amazing. The machine idles at around 3 watts and goes up to only about 7 or 8 with average tasks that don’t involve compiling KWin. 🙂 Because of this and the positively enormous 92 watt-hour battery in the 15.6″ model, I get about 12 hours or more of real-world, actual usage battery life.

OMG WTF

This level of battery life is just incredible. I’m honestly jealous, as my ThinkPad gets barely 4 hours with average use and never appreciably cools down. In practice, it means that I can work with the Slimbook from any room in my house without having to worry about where the cord is, while with my ThinkPad, I’m always tethered to the nearest plug and it’s always toasting my lap. The Slimbook is a clear winner for travel, obviously. There’s no compromise between power, battery life, and cool temperatures. It’s pretty impressive, really.

Case and ports

The KDE Slimbook’s understated magnesium case is lovely. Medium silver is my favorite case material/color as it strikes an excellent balance between not showing fingerprints and not showing dirt.

The whole machine is incredibly thin and light for a 15.6″ screen laptop: 17mm (0.67 inches) thick and weighing exactly 1.5kg (3.3 pounds). Despite this, it is nice and rigid, without much flex. It definitely feels durable enough to throw in a backpack and travel the world with.

I generally prefer small and light laptops and for this reason I usually go with 13.3″ and 14″ laptops–but the 15.6″ KDE Slimbook is actually barely larger: it fits into the same compartment in my travel backback that I slot my 14″ ThinkPad into.

The lid opens with one hand–no need to hold down the bottom. This is a nice touch.

The case has a good assortment of ports, including two goodies that are becoming increasingly rare on thin-and-light laptops: full-sized ethernet and HDMI ports! In addition you get 3 USB-A ports, one USB-C port, a MicroSD card reader, and obviously a headphone/microphone combo jack. The laptop supports WiFi6. It includes a fairly hefty 90-watt power adapter with a right-angle barrel jack plug which weights 0.49 kg, but the USB-C port supports charging just as you would expect.

Here’s what it looks like under the hood:

Access is super easy. You just remove nine philips head screws and then the bottom cover pops right off.

The RAM, wifi card, and SSD are all upgradable. My unit came with a single 8GB RAM stick in single-channel mode. I asked the SlimBook folks about this and they said that the 8GB configuration ships in single-channel mode like this, but all other configuration options (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB) will include two sticks and support dual-channel mode.

Despite the enormous battery, there is clearly room for an even bigger one if some of the internal components were rejiggered a bit. There’s a big empty space to the left of the right-most fan that’s just empty right now. Obviously you wouldn’t want to put a battery right next to the heat pipes, but potentially the speakers could be moved closer to the top of the case and made upwards-firing, which would leave enough room at the bottom of the case for the battery to be even wider.

Display

Overall the laptop’s screen is perfectly nice.

It’s a 1080p 15.6″ (197mm) matte non-touch panel with 100% sRGB coverage, the combination of which results in everything looking roughly the right size on screen. However I find myself wishing it were a 4K panel. The pixels are a bit big for my tastes and double the pixel density on a screen of this size would make everything so much more sharp and crisp looking, especially text. This would of course reduce the battery life a bit, but the machine’s cavernous 92 watt-hour battery would surely be able to handle it. I personally would be willing to go down to only 7-10 hours of battery life in exchange for a higher resolution screen, and I wish it were at least an option.

There is no visible ghosting, and the refresh rate is just fine.

The maximum brightness level is fine for indoor use, but a bit dim for outdoor use. It’s usable, but not as nice as if it got about 100 nits brighter, as my ThinkPad’s screen does.

Colors look good, but they do feel a little bit washed out and de-saturated to me, and the black level is not as dark as I would prefer. This is a function of the display surface being matte rather than glossy, and it’s why I personally prefer glossy screens. Yes, you get more reflections and glare with a glossy screen, but in exchange you get richer colors and darker blacks, and glare can be offset with a brighter backlight. Now, if you’re a fan of matte screens, obviously, this is all a feature, not a bug. 🙂 However those of you who are willing to accept the trade-off of glossy screens are out of luck, as the laptop only comes with a matte screen.

There is no option for touch or 2-in-1 functionality, which should not be a problem as a 15.6″ touch laptop is kind of a silly idea in the first place.

Keyboard

Text and symbols on the final keyboard will be using the Noto Sans font, breeze icons for the function keys, and the Plasma logo for the Meta key! My unit did not have this yet, but the final shipping units will.

The keyboard is a bit of a mixed bag from my perspective.

The keys themselves have a satisfying feel and bottom out firmly. However the activation force could be a bit higher for my tastes, and the larger-than-average keys initially caused me to accidentally press adjacent keys more often that usual. I got used to it eventually though. Overall, the typing experience is pretty good, but not amazing–at least when compared to a ThinkPad keyboard! Keep in mind that I’m a keyboard snob who spends most of the day typing, so the KDE Slimbook’s keyboard would probably it would be considered excellent by most people. It’s certainly leagues better than those horrible low-travel “maglev” or “magic” keyboards plaguing certain high end laptops.

However the keyboard does have a real drawback: the fact that the keys themselves are silver with dark gray text. This makes the text a bit difficult to read under dim-but-not-dark lighting conditions. Black keys with white text would be far superior, and in fact the older KDE Slimbook laptop already had this setup! This version should do the same, so I find it a bit odd that it does not. Unfortunately the keyboard backlighting is dim and uneven, and often makes things worse:

I generally keep the keyboard backlight off except in very dark conditions where it actually helps. In comparison, the text on my ThinkPad’s keys are more visible, and the backlighting is more useful in more lighting conditions.

In the end it’s not a huge deal as my old HP Spectre was afflicted with the same problem and I lived with it for four years. Still, higher contrast would be better.

On the plus side, the keyboard layout is very good. You don’t have any bizarre departures from normalcy like putting the PrintScreen key between Alt and Ctrl and the Fn key in the bottom-left corner as on ThinkPads, or replacing the right Ctrl key with a fingerprint reader in in newer HP laptops. There’s none of that nonsense here! You get a conventional layout with a few real improvements, like the inverted T arrangement of the arrow keys, rather than having smooshed up and down arrow keys. And I really like the a column on the right side of the keyboard with Home, End, PageUp, and PageDown keys:

Having the Home and End keys close to the arrow keys makes efficient text processing a snap, and it’s easy to hit Ctrl+PageUp/PageDown with one hand for fast tab navigation. This is present on the 15.6″ model that I have, but not the 14″ model. It would be nice to have it on that one, too.

Unfortunately, the function keys are annoying. They behave as F keys (F1, F2, F3, etc.) when pressed; to access the secondary functionality, you have to hold down the Fn key in the corner, which makes it irritating to do things like quickly adjust the volume or the brightness. I wish these features were triggered by default without having to hold down the Fn key, which is how most laptops seem to have it set up these days, or at least they offer it with a function lock feature. Unfortunately there is no option for this with the KDE Slimbook.

Additionally, a minor annoyance concerns how to toggle keyboard backlight: there is one key to increase the keyboard backlight’s brightness, and another to decrease it (there are two brightness levels). This is unnecessary fiddly, and I wish there was a single brightness level and a single function key that toggled the keyboard backlight on and off, or cycled through the modes if there have to be multiple brightness levels.

As one final nitpick, I would prefer play/pause, back, and forward media keys, and a microphone mute key. However the lack of these is a pretty minor thing as it’s easy enough to assign them yourself them in the System Settings Global Shortcuts page.

Oh and one more really final thing, this time just for Americans: a US American layout is offered, complete with wide Enter and Shift keys. My unit has an ISO English keyboard layout, so that’s what the photos depict, but a US American layout is available. Not to worry. 🙂

Touchpad

The touchpad is serviceable. Usable. But not amazing.

The physical feel is fine–not wonderful, but fine. It doesn’t have a glass surface, but the plastic surface is smooth, not rough, and will probably become smoother over time. So that’s good. However there is a small amount of play in the touchpad such that you can press it down a tiny bit and hear a low but audible click without it actually clicking. By contrast the touchpad on my Thinkpad is rock-solid, and does not move or emit any sound until you click it.

Tracking is fine, but the resolution could be a bit higher to make cursor movement feel smoother.

Overall there is room for improvement, but it’s not terrible. It’s notably not as good as my ThinkPad’s touchpad, but it’s usable. In practice I suspect that only very picky people or those who have used Apple hardware will be disappointed, while people who have only ever used typical crappy PC laptop touchpads and think all touchpads are terrible will just plug in a mouse like they always do. 🙂

Speakers

The KDE Slimbook’s speakers are surprisingly good. I was honestly not expecting much from them as they are just two small downward-pointing stereo speakers, but they produce good sound with a high maximum volume and even a bit of bass. At the high end, the sound becomes a bit tinny, but they are just laptop speakers, after all. 🙂 Listening to music on the SlimBook is pleasant and enjoyable overall. A very good showing in my opinion.

Camera

The KDE SlimBook’s camera is also surprisingly good! Its picture quality is adequate and the responsiveness is excellent. This is a welcome change from the camera in my ThinkPad, which is visibly laggy. Maybe this is a driver issue, but the SlimBook’s camera is just better to use.

Software integration

The KDE Slimbook ships with KDE Neon as the operating system, which runs like a top. Boot is very fast; pressing-power-button-to-login-screen is about 11 seconds. Everything works just like you would expect. The hardware’s features are all fully supported out of the box–except for the infrared facial recognition camera which we in KDE haven’t managed to add support for yet. So boo us! It’s an omission we’re hoping to address in the future. One final thing is that the volume up/down keys on my unit send double events, so pressing them increases or decreases the volume by 20%, not 10%. This is a firmware bug that the Slimbook folks are tracking down and hopefully it should be fixed soon. In the meantime, you can change the volume step value to 5% in the Audio Volume applet.

Otherwise the hardware-software integration Just Works™, exactly as it should.

In conclusion

There are very few compromises with the KDE Slimbook. You get a thin, light, rigid, and durable laptop with a nice screen, a powerful CPU, and crazy battery life. It’s nice to type on and its speakers sound good. The price is reasonable, starting at 930 € (roughly $1,075) for the 8GB RAM 250GB SSD configuration.

I have no reservations recommending this laptop. You should buy it. Heck, I feel like I should have bought it!

In some ways, this is the machine I should have gotten instead of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga I wound up with–had it been available a few months ago! It’s better than my former HP Spectre x360 laptop in virtually every way, and a straightforward upgrade. Had I not gone with the ThinkPad, I never would have been spoiled by the pleasures of a 4K screen and the amazing ThinkPad keyboard. True, it doesn’t have a touchscreen, but I could have kept my old laptop for testing touch support.

Verdict

The good:

  • Outrageously amazing performance
  • Incredible battery life
  • Runs cool and quiet
  • Keyboard has a sensible layout
  • Speakers are surprisingly good
  • Built-in camera is surprisingly good
  • Case is very thin and light despite large screen size; super portable
  • Includes full-sized HDMI and ethernet ports and WiFi 6
  • Very attractive machine overall
  • Great integration with KDE Plasma

The okay:

  • Screen is fine, but I would prefer at least an option for a brighter glossy 4K screen
  • Keyboard is fine but I would prefer smaller keys and firmer activation force
  • Touchpad is fine but the physical feel and resolution could be improved

The bad:

  • Keyboard keys are silver with dark gray lettering, so text is hard to distinguish in many lighting conditions, and backlighting often makes things worse
  • Function keys’ secondary functionality is annoying to access

But as you can see, those negatives are pretty minor in the scheme of things–mostly just little annoyances, nothing dealbreaking. It is an amazing computer overall. So what are you waiting for?! Go buy one!

This week in KDE: Get New Stuff fixes and more

Do you like more features, fewer bugs, and a better UI? I do. So as I look over this week’s update, I smile. In particular, some much-needed fixes for the Get New [thing] system have landed, and more are on the way. We realize this is a pain point and we’re working on it.

In Plasma, we’ve been actually using Bugzilla’s priority feature to prioritize bugfixes, beginning with recent regressions. Every day I triage all new bugs and mark any recent regressions accordingly, then try to try to track down people who can fix things, or do it myself if I’m able to. Hopefully over time we’ll have fewer regressions, and the ones that do slip through will get fixed faster.

New Features

When drawing annotations in Okular, holding down the Shift key now constrains the new annotation to increments of 15 degrees or perfect squares, as in many drawing apps (Luca Citi, Okular 1.11.0)

Okular now has a new hidden action you can put on its toolbar that will toggle right-to-left reading direction for the current document (David Hurka, Okular 1.11.0)

KRunner can now display bookmarks from Falkon too (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

The Properties Dialog can now also display SHA512 checksums for files (Nazar Kalinowski, Frameworks 5.73)

Bugfixes and performance & security Improvements

Dolphin’s selection highlight in Compact and Details modes is no longer too short (Ismael Asensio, Dolphin 20.08.0)

Fixed a recent regression that caused wallpapers downloaded using the Get New [Thing] dialog to not be apply-able (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.4)

Fixed a recent regression that caused Plasma to overwrite the system locale settings even if nothing had been changed (Plasma 5.19.4)

When decrypting a Plasma Vault, if the password has been made visible, it now becomes hidden again the moment you submit it so that it doesn’t sit around visible yet un-erasable on the screen for a few seconds (Ivan Čukić, Plasma 5.19.4)

The Plasma Networks System Tray applet no longer crashes when clicked if there is an OpenVPN VPN configured (Lamarque Souza, Plasma 5.20.0)

KRunner’s single runner mode now works (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

The KRunner Plasma widget now respects the list of enabled and disabled runners set in System Settings (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

KRunner no longer crashes when you type anything while the PIM Contact Search plugin is active (Friedrich Kossebau, Frameworks 5.73)

When using the Get New [thing] dialog to download new wallpapers, the “Use” button will now actually apply the wallpaper as it should (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Frameworks 5.73)

When installing something using the Get New [thing] dialog fails, it is no longer incorrectly marked as installed (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73)

Get New [thing] dialogs now display the same sort order that the sort order combobox indicates (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Frameworks 5.73)

The URL Navigator in Dolphin and the file dialogs and various other KDE apps now has a saner auto-complete behavior (Noah Davis, Frameworks 5.73)

Plasma widget pop-ups no longer appear in the Task Switcher (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.73)

User Interface Improvements

FUSE mounts are now automatically excluded from the list of disks visible in the Disk Usage widget (Arjen Hiemstra, Plasma 5.20)

The cursor no longer changes in size when hovering over GTK/GNOME app windows (Mikhail Zolotukhin, Plasma 5.20)

After taking into consideration feedback from users and designers, the System Tray icon arrangement options now include a way to return to the old style: one or two rows/columns of small-ish icons that do not scale with panel thickness (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

System Tray popups have been made a little bit taller–just a little bit (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20):

The System Tray Battery applet now tells you when the power source you’re plugged into isn’t supplying enough power to charge the battery (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

Scrollable pages in Kirigami-based apps can now be scrolled with the arrow keys (Carl Schwan, Frameworks 5.73)

The “Overwrite” action/button used in various places throughout KDE software now has a nice icon (David Hurka, Frameworks 5.73)

When the file type list in open/save dialogs would show multiple entries with the same name, they are now disambiguated by appending the filename extension (Albert Astals Cid, Frameworks 5.73):

The icons-only view buttons in the Get New [thing] dialogs now show tooltips so you can tell what they are (Alexander Lohnau, Frameworks 5.73):

How You Can Help

If you are an experienced developer who would like to make a gigantic impact very quickly, fix some recent Plasma regressions or longstanding bugs. Everyone will love you forever!

Beyond that, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

This week in KDE: New features galore!

Tons and tons of awesome new features and UI polish landed this week, alongside an equally weighty ton of important bugfixes.

New Features

Elisa now lets you optionally display all Genres, Artists, or Albums in the sidebar, below other items (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.08.0):

Elisa’s playlist now displays the progress of the currently playing song inline (Stef Lep, Elisa 20.08.0)

Konsole now has a new on-by-default-but-disable-able feature to display a subtle highlight for new lines coming into view when the terminal output is rapidly scrolling by (Thomas Surrel, Konsole 20.08.0)

System Tray icons now automatically scale to fit no matter the panel’s thickness, and you can now choose for yourself how many rows or columns to display if you want (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

Bugfixes & performance Improvements

Dolphin now correctly respects your preference regarding what to do when opening executable files (Wolfgang Bauer, Dolphin 20.04.3)

When typing a search term in Dolphin, the cursor position no longer gets reset after results begin to appear (Ismael Asensio, Dolphin 20.08.0)

Elisa got some high DPI fixes relating to line thicknesses and icon sizes (me: Nate Graham, Elisa 20.08.0)

When using a pen for input on Wayland, the position of the drawn lines is no longer vertically offset by the height of the titlebar (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.19.3)

Applying a Global Theme now also changes the colors appropriately for GTK applications (Mikhail Zolotukhin, Plasma 5.19.4)

KRunner and Kickoff/Kicker/Application Dashboard can once again be used to open settings windows that are not visible directly in System Settings, such as the Trash or Breeze theme settings pages (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.19.4)

The “Text Only” display style for the new system monitor widgets now works properly (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.19.4)

Fixed a crash on Wayland when waking up the computer while multiple screens are attached (Andreas Haratzis, Plasma 5.20)

Fixed a bug that could cause the Task Manager’s icons to be obscured when changing the resolution or display the wrong icons when a screen is turned or of unplugged (Alexander Kandaurov, Plasma 5.20)

The Plasma Widget Explorer only tells you that there’s already an instance of a widget while that widget is visible in the current screen/activity (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

On Wayland, it’s now possible to enter full screen mode in MPV by double-clicking on the video (Benjamin Port, Plasma 5.20.0)

Changing the “Confirm Logout” setting now takes effect immediately, instead of requiring a restart first (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.20.0)

Window decorations now display correctly when using a 30-bit/10-bit-per-color screen (Bernie Innocenti, Plasma 5.20)

Previews for cursor themes now correctly display real-time previews as you hover your cursor over them on Wayland (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

Menu separators in QML-based desktop apps now have the correct height and thickness when using a high DPI screen and a global scale factor (Arjen Hiemstra, Frameworks 5.73)

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that despite the above fix, some of these separator lines are 1px tall and others are 2px. This is a so far unavoidable artifact caused by my using a fractional scale factor on X11. It’s already better on Wayland and I’m investigating whether there’s anything we can do there on X11 too, but this caption is already way too long for any more explanation than that!

Fixed a wide variety of Plasma crashes, in particular with the Thermal Monitor widget (David Edmundson, Frameworks 5.73)

User Interface Improvements

KRDC now displays proper server-side cursors in VNC instead of a small dot with the remote cursor lagging behind it (Oleg Chernovskiy, KRDC 20.08.0):

Yakuake now lets you configure all the keyboard shortcuts that actually come from Konsole (Maximillian Schiller, Yakuake 20.08.0)

The Disk Usage widget now looks more like how it did in Plasma 5.18 and earlier (but still using the fancy new backend, of course) (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.20)

When using the “Raise maximum volume” setting and setting the volume above 100%, the percentage display for the current volume level now changes color to show you that the volume is really really really high (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

The old obsolete System Settings Emoticons page is no more (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20)

The System Settings Shortcuts page no longer shows mysterious categories such as “KDE Daemon” or “System Settings” for seemingly unrelated actions, and instead groups them all into a new category named “Custom Shortcuts Service” (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

The users list in the lock and login screens can no longer be pointlessly dragged around when there’s only one user (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

How You Can Help

Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

High DPI update

I’d like to share a brief update regarding the state of high DPI support. Since getting a laptop with a 4K screen, I’ve found all sorts of subtle papercuts and have been doing my best to fix them or at least file bug reports. Here’s what’s been fixed recently:

Fixed recently

…And the work continues! Here are the bugs next on my list to investigate and try to fix:

Next up

A lot of the above issues are sort of stretch goals for me as each one requires a great deal of learning before I can even begin to try to put together a halfway-intelligent fix. So feel free to help out if you find this work useful and have relevant skills!

This week in KDE: A little bit of everything

A lot of exciting things are happening behind the scenes these days, but in terms of what landed this week, we focused on bugfixing–including a few nice high DPI fixes–and also got a few nice Dolphin and Konsole features.

New Features

Dolphin now has a new “Copy Location” menu item (Yann Holme-Nielsen, Dolphin 20.08.0):

And so does Konsole! (Tomaz Canabrava, Konsole 20.08):

Konsole’s split view headers can now be optionally disabled, and the thickness of the separator can be optionally increased (Tomaz Canabrava, Konsole 20.08.0):

Bugfixes & performance Improvements

Various non-default Task Switchers now have the right size when using a high DPI scale factor (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.18.6 and beyond)

Fixed various system tray items’ context menus popping up in the wrong location (Konrad Materka, Plasma 5.18.6 and beyond)

When using a wallpaper package with multiple sizes (e.g. the default Plasma wallpaper), the correct size is now displayed when using a high DPI scale factor or changing screen resolutions (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.3)

The plasma start-up sound is no longer cut off when starting up the computer (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.3)

The new System Monitor widgets now always have the correct text color when using a Plasma theme with a different color scheme from the Application color scheme (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.19.3)

System Settings no longer crashes when you open the Applications page without any file managers installed (Alex Merry, Plasma 5.19.3)

Krunner is now faster to open so the text that you type winds up in KRunner rather than in the app below it (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20)

When changing the default browser, the “default browser” entry visible in Kickoff and the Task Manager by default now automatically updates too (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

Dolphin can once again execute script files with spaces in the filename or path (David Faure, Frameworks 5.72)

Close buttons in Kirigami sheets are no longer subtly pixelated some of the time (Nicolas Fella, Kirigami 5.72)

Several Breeze icons which had subtle pixel mis-alignments that could make them appear blurry no longer suffer from this issue (Maksym Hazevych, Frameworks 5.72)

When using Qt scaling in Plasma by setting the PLASMA_USE_QT_SCALING=1 environment variable, windows now minimize to the correct locations in the Task Manager (Marco Martin, Frameworks 5.72)

User Interface Improvements

The System Settings Screen Locking page has been rewritten in QML, which fixes all of the open bugs (David Redondo, Plasma 5.20):

The Keyboard Layout System Tray item now always uses a monochrome icon, to better match the style (Nicolas Fella, Plasma 5.20):

How You Can Help

Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.